Wii Are All Active Learners!

June 18, 2010

For those of you who attended my workshop, Wii Are All Active Learners, at the JISC Regional Support Centre (Yorkshire & Humber) summer conference last week, you’ll remember I promised to write up the details of the five case studies I covered on the day.

The workshop brief was to explore how the Nintendo Wii and Wii Fit Plus are currently being used in education and we looked at how gaming has the potential to engage learners in such a way that adds fun to learning and creates a dynamic environment that challenges the traditional ‘chalk and talk’ approach to learning.

One quote I often liked to use in teacher training, taken from Petty’s website, was “What the learner does is more important than what the teacher does.”  I couldn’t agree more.  I won’t presume to bore you with all of the educational theories on social and active learning, but another good and often used quote from the American psychiatrist Glasser is appropriate here:

“We learn…

  • 10% of what we read
  • 20% of what we hear
  • 30% of what we see
  • 50% of what we se and hear
  • 70% of what we discuss
  • 80% of what we experience
  • 95% of what we teach others.”

Now in a 45 minute workshop there wasn’t time to get the learners teaching each other how to use the Wii in an educational context, but the sadist in me knew that I did have the perfect opportunity to give delegates the Wii experience by putting them through their paces by attempting to ski, do yoga and even run a mini marathon in front of their peers!  Thankfully, we had plenty of willing volunteers (victims?) on the day who were really good sports and were keen to get up and have a go.

Here’s a snapshot of the battle of the sexes team race, kindly lead by e-learning advisors Kathy Boyer and Kevin Campbell-Wright:

And they’re off!

Anyway, back to the five practical examples demonstrating how the Wii is being used to personalise learning, encourage teamwork and support functional skills I mentioned earlier!

1. Creating Fun Interactive Puzzles Using the Wii as an Interactive Whiteboard

An SD memory card can be used to store images (JPEGs) that can then be turned into fun interactive puzzles for learners using the Photo Channel.  Learners can use the multi-coloured pens using the Wii remote to ‘doodle’ on the images (e.g. spot the safety hazards in the salon, identify the artists of famous portraits, etc) or even create jigsaw puzzles using the ‘fun’ option. This helps to develop problem solving skills as well as adding a kinaesthetic aspect to learning that helps learners with mobility problems (Wyke College case study).  In addition to JPEGs you can also view AVI video files through the Wii and if you have an internet connection you can even access the BBC i-player.

2. Promoting Healthy Eating

The Wii Fit has become the first game to be endorsed by the Department of Health and is being used for physiotherapy in UK hospitals and schools to tackle obesity and show people with prosthetic limbs how to balance, with their shift in weight being accurately shown on the screen. You could also use it as an ideal discussion point for addressing topics such as Body Mass Index (BMI), centre of gravity (COG) and posture and could easily incorporate fun Wii activities into a PSHE or similar course. 

3. Competitions For Learners

IT students at Leeds City College, Park Lane Campus, raised money for Children in Need by setting Nintendo Wii Ski Jump competitions for learners.  The Sports Team at Leeds City College have also used the Wii Fit extensively to support Key Skills.

I’ve seen normally placid laid back adults turn into fiercely competitive psychopaths after taking up a challenge that sets them up against their peers.  Great for motivatiing learners.

4.  Supporting Functional Skills

The Wii Fit Plus specifically (as opposed to the older Wii Fit) incorporates more games that test your mental arithmetic as well as bodily exercise, which has been exploited by some colleges to support functional skills.  Bradford College have been using the Wii’s wi-fi connection to access a number of free web-based games that can be used with learners as well to help support functional skills

5. Encouraging Physical Education and Team Work

Joseph Priestly College have used the Wii equipment and games to improve co-ordination, team work and physical activity.  For example, the two player jogging shown above is a great way to encourage a bit of healthy competition amongst learners.

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What new technologies are libraries currently exploring to engage users?

May 13, 2010

That was the question a colleague asked me the other day who was moving towards a new build library and was keen to kit out their library with the latest tech.  Interestingly, when I canvassed library staff across the region to find out what they were using they also wanted to find out what tech everyone else was exploring.

Here’s a sample of some of the responses I received from library staff and a few ideas on how the technology can be used to improve the library service:

  • e-Readers are becoming increasingly of interest to libraries but there’s still some debate over there level of accessibility and which model to go for.  My colleague, Chrissie Turkington, has blogged on the issues for library staff which is available here.   Many librarians are also eagerly awaiting the imminent launch of the i-pad in the UK (28th May 2010)  to see what it has to offer.  Watch this space…
  • Bluetooth proximity marketing is being explored by some libraries as a way of communicating  with users by sending adverts, promotions and general information about resources.
  • Voting software, especially Optivote and Qwizdom, are popular amongst students and staff at some libraries.  They are typically used as a fun assessment activity in inductions / information skills and/or staff development sessions.
  • Some FE and Public libraries have made use of the Nintendo Wii at set events for staff development and to enhance student engagement in ‘social learning areas’ in the library.  Further examples of using the Wii are available here.
  • Staff and students are using Vado cameras in one library.  These can be used for recording learner feedback on the library services or by learners who might need to produce audio-visual evidence for their coursework.
  • Regent College in Leicester are using Nintendo DS’s with educational games at certain times of the year to occupy learners and minimise disruption in the library.  The case study is available here.  Plus more and more authors are making their books available on the DSi.

(Image available under the Creative Commons licence on Flickr available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/juanpol/31420100/)

  • One Sixth Form library has experimented with the i-pod Touch to deliver library inductions.  This case study can be viewed on Mole TV here.
  • Exeter College are using digital photo frames on the library counter to promote different resources and services (e.g. eBooks).
  • A number of libraries operate a loan scheme for the Asus EEE mini computers so that when IT Suites are fully booked library staff still have the capacity to offer students internet access (or to work on their assignments, etc).
  • Bradford College has introduced RFID (radio-frequency identification) in the library to empower learners to control their own lending.  It has provided many organisational benefits, including enhanced security and stock control.  More importantly though, RFID has enabled staff to support learners in a more effective way.  This case study can be viewed on the Excellence Gateway here.   This option is clearly a longer term project though and requires more planning compared to the smaller kit options above.

Clearly, this is not an exhaustive list by any means, but I hope it has provided a few new things for you to try out at your library and if there’s something I’ve missed feel free to let me know byadding a comment below.
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A Wiilly Good Idea for Libraries…?

November 17, 2009

Libraries (whether they’re FE, HE or Public libraries) all face the increasing challenge of engaging their audience in competition with a multitude of other information sources available to users.

According to recent government statistics, around 70% of households in the UK now have access to Broadband.  Add to that, the rise in internet access via mobile devices, with current estimates ranging between 7.2 million and 17.4 million users in the UK alone.  Of course, the library continues to play a vital role in providing access to digital information for those without any other means of access, as well as to the vast range of media that information is also available in today, which leads me nicely on to the point of this article…

Libraries have always been quick to provide a range of media types to cater to the diverse needs of their users, so what about exploring the world of modern gaming to convey information and encourage community engagement?

Libraries can be places of fun and the use of the Wii specifically in libraries is becoming more common than what you might think.  Sure, we still need quiet areas where people can study in peace, but does that mean to say there shouldn’t be a time and a place in the library where people can’t enjoy the fun side of learning as well?

Wii Sports

People learning how to get a hole in one on Wii Sports golf

(Image available under the creative commons licence, taken from Flickr)

The Online Education Database has a really helpful article detailing fifty ideas on how the Wii could be used in a library context.  Whether it’s using the Wii to introduce people to reading, bringing geography to life by using the Wii’s ‘News and Weather’ channels (an interactive globe at your fingertips!), or making use of the ‘Everyone Votes’ channel to find out what your users think of your library.

Examples also exist around the region, during Wimbledon Leeds Public Library had some great success using Wii Tennis to engage a whole cohort of young patrons who might otherwise have never stepped foot in the library. And if you work in a specialist Health Library you might be interested to know that the Department of Health has even given the seal of approval to the Wii Fit Plus.  For those who haven’t had a play on this, it’s a great way to introduce people to concepts like BMI, centre of gravity and weight management as well as playing an integral role in physiotherapy.  How many specialist Health Libraries are out there by the way, looking for a way to engage users?  Just a thought…

Also, there’s an increasing amount of research being undertaken to evaluate the Wii’s potential to support disabled students in education.

Okay, I admit, it’s not going to be for everyone (still, what is?), but if you can engage a few more people in the library and possibly break some of the old library stereotypes down into the bargain, then it’s got to be worth a go hasn’t it?

Wiimember, you’re never too old for a bit of silliness.  Sorry, that’s a terrible pun to end on, terrible…

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